Saturday, June 5, 2010
Dark Chocolate Rosemary Muffins and Schools
The day I served them for breakfast, there was a potluck to celebrate the last day of preschool for Julian's class. I looked at the 14 muffins that remained after breakfast and decided to take them as our contribution for the many adults who would appreciate them. The muffins where a huge hit with the staff, one of them "stealing" one to bring home to his wife and asking hopefully if I was going to feature them here. I told him how to get the recipe and then listed most of the changes I had made. I liked them better the next day as a snack instead of breakfast. The rosemary is really very subtle, hard to even pinpoint what it is. I know I will be playing with the recipe even more later. For this week though I will be spending time away from my family and kitchen to attend interviews for a school principal at an Elementary school in Burlington.
The principal who is being replaced is stellar and she does not want to leave her job, the school, school board and superintendent do not want to replace her either. She has no choice and neither does the school system thanks to federal legislation that desperately needs to be rewritten. We need legislation that will help our schools instead of penalizing schools who serve the populations most in need.
The short story is please call your congressmen and senators and demand that No Child Left Behind and ESEA do not penalize schools for low test scores, especially as the legislation does not take into account individual student growth, home language or in the case of a child with an individualized education plan (IEP) the students actual goals. How can a child who has moved to this country a year ago and does not speak English at home score well on a standardized test? What if that child's home language is Mai Mai, which is not a written language? Why are the tests administered in the fall when children's learning often loses ground over the summer? Why are we expecting all students to reach the same goals at the same times, rather then looking for each child to make progress in their learning based on where they started.
If you are still here for this rant, thank you. Now that you have read all the way through please make your voice heard before this legislation requires another top rated principal be replaced. I attended a town meeting about this legislation with Senator Bernie Sanders where he was saddened to hear she needed to be replaced. After the meeting his chief of staff, Huck Guttman spoke with myself and 2 friends and described her as, "One of the top ten principals in Vermont." She spent her free time working to improve her school, she helped in the cafeteria at lunch every day to help the students make healthy choices, because she understands how nutrition impacts learning. She spent forty minutes on a parking lot telling me about her school and the exciting changes they have done as one of 2 magnet schools in Vermont. Changes that will take years to show up in the test scores because children are not cars built in a factory. When you change what you are doing on a factory floor the new products will be rolled off the line right away. A school has to start where students are and help them to achieve more.
And now, if you are still there, let me reward you with the muffin recipe.
Dark Chocolate Rosemary Muffins
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce (I still don't have a copy so feel free to send me one, perhaps as a belated 40th birthday present. I actually found the recipe on The Wednesday Chef. You should go check out her post as well, she has the recipe posted as written, with spelt flour. I would have used the spelt if I had it on hand. Although I would have then subbed in white whole wheat flour for half the white flour.)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil or olive oil (the better the oil the better the cake)
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp fleur de sel (I am currently out of kosher salt)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary very finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
6 ounces bitter sweet chocolate chopped into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces (the original recipe calls for 5 ounces but I did not want to save the last ounce from the bar)
Preheat the oven to 350° and place liners in 18 or fewer muffin cups (I made 18 muffins with this recipe but wished the muffins were larger. Next time I will make 16 muffins.
Whisk the eggs with the olive oil, milk, vanilla and rosemary until thoroughly blended. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk to blend. Add both flours and gently fold them in until just combined and then stir in the chocolate.
Divide the batter (it will be thinner then most muffin batters) between the prepared muffin tins and place in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester comes out moist but without any wet batter clinging to it.